August 5, 2011

August 5, 2011
New CDC HIV Numbers Reinforce Need to
Heighten Nation's Commitment to Prevention

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you have had a safe and great week so far. It has been a very busy one for Dab the AIDS Bear and me as we have been meeting with our elected officials and on conference calls all week.

Today's announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that new HIV infections in the US remain stable but has increased among gay men and other men who have sex with men, particularly among black gay men, is further evidence that our Nation's commitment to HIV prevention must be heightened. At a time when Washington policy makers are debating ways to cut budgets, we cannot risk cutting HIV prevention programs, which account for only 4 percent of all federal HIV spending. Instead we should be increasing our investment.

While the CDC reports the number of overall infections remain stable, there was an increase in the number of infections in one group, gay men. Despite being about 2 percent of the population, they accounted for 61 percent of the new infections in 2009, compared to 56 percent in 2006. This was driven by a dramatic number of new infections among young black gay men (48 percent increase among those ages 13-29).

It is obvious we must invest our resources, prevention programs and research on where the epidemic is and where it is increasing. We hope federal, state, and local health departments together with community based organizations will appropriately adjust their programs to ensure the needs of the most affected communities are addressed. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy developed by the Obama Administration reinforces this need, but change is often met with resistance.

The 34 percent increase in the number of new infections among young gay men is yet another reminder for the need to have age appropriate sexuality education that includes a positive discussion of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

The new CDC incidence numbers continue to demonstrate that HIV in the U.S. not only disproportionately affects gay men of all races and ethnicities, but African American and Latino men and women as well.

Investing in HIV prevention today will save money tomorrow. Preventing one infection will save approximately $355,000 in future lifetime medical costs. If we had prevented the 48,100 new cases in 2009 alone would translate into an astounding $17 billion less in lifetime medical costs.

President Obama has proposed an increase to CDC's HIV prevention programs by $57 million in FY12. When the U.S Congress returns to Washington in the fall and turns to completing action on its spending bills, we urge them to support at least this level of funding to ensure we can continue to prevent HIV infections in our country.

Today's news from the CDC is not good news. A stable number of new infections is not progress; we need to see a decline in the number of new infections. President Obama stated in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy that he envisions a country where HIV infections are rare. We look forward to that day, but it will only occur if we properly invest in HIV prevention today.

So this is another example of why we need not only more ADAP funding but also more Ryan White funding for things like prevention.

So give your elected officials a call in Washington, DC and let them know we need additional funding for ADAP and HIV prevention. If they ask why, you can use this information in this blog.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab